Phillipston: Hearings on cannabis retailers, dirt bike restrictions set for Jan. 25

  • Phillipston Town Hall in Phillipston. Staff file photoPaul Franz

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 1/12/2021 2:57:42 PM
Modified: 1/12/2021 2:57:39 PM

PHILLIPSTON — A pair of public hearings — one relative to a proposed retail marijuana business, the other to a town-wide restriction on dirt bikes – have been set for Jan. 25. The Planning Board confirmed the hearing schedule at its meeting this week.

The first hearing will address the board’s site plan review of a plan by entrepreneur Damon Schmidt to establish a retail cannabis operation at 420 State Road/Route 2A.

Schmidt plans to construct a 4,000-square-feet structure at the corner of State Road and Baldwin Hill Road. His project has been in the works for about two years, with his original proposal calling for a combination retail/cultivation operation. It was determined, however, that the plan was not feasible due to restrictions imposed by the town’s zoning bylaws.

Action on his proposal has also been held up due to questions surrounding a moratorium on the establishment of any cannabis businesses which was enacted at a special town meeting last year. Schmidt has argued that he submitted his plans to the town prior to the establishment of the moratorium, which still has not been formally approved by the state Attorney General’s Office.

The issue generating the most discussion at Monday’s meeting was that of proposed restrictions on dirt bikes. Resident David Mandy had questions about the proposed bylaw, which was put forward by citizen petition.

“What did the petition say – that you want to prohibit dirt bikes and motocross tracks in all zones?” he asked. “Are they currently prohibited in any zone right now?”

“They are not prohibited in any zone right now,” replied board Chair Bernie Malouin.

“So, the petition basically wants to prohibit all dirt bike activity?” Manty asked, for clarification.

“This is not a Planning Board petition,” Malouin began. “This is put forward by some petitioners in town who have signed it. And, yes, they would be banned in all zones.”

Mandy pressed further.

“But if you own a dirt bike,” he continued, “you’re not going to be prohibited from using it on your property, I wouldn’t think. You don’t necessarily need a track to ride a dirt bike.”

“My understanding,” said Malouin, “is that it’s going to ban dirt bikes and tracks.”

“If I want to ride my motorcycle around my yard, I don’t think anybody can stop me,” Manty stressed. “I’m just saying, if I lived in the recreational area, I would hope you can’t ban me from riding around my property.”

Malouin then asked for clarification from Bonnie House, one of the organizers of the petition.

“The petition states that dirt bike and motocross tracks are prohibited in all zones,” said House. “It’s the tracks, not necessarily dirt bikes per se. The idea is to limit the constant use of these bikes on large tracks.”

Malouin interjected that someone would have to further clarify the intent of the proposed bylaw.

“I guess we’re going to have to figure this one out,” he said. “There’s going to need to be some definition of what constitutes a track.”

“Well,” said board member John Telepciak, “that answers Dave’s question about whether he could ride his dirt bike around, he could – unless he’s got a track. He’s just talking about riding around.”

Malouin, however, disputed whether the question had indeed been answered.

“I would think that if Dave had a place in his yard that he drove his bike around,” he replied, “he probably has something – if you keep going over the same path – I guess it would be a track. That would be my, I think, logical thinking.

“I know I carved a path around the back of my property, because I like to take walks out there and I don’t go a different route every time I go out. I always follow the same path. If I took a bike around that path, is it considered a dirt bike track?”

Malouin said all the details and questions regarding the proposal will have to addressed following the hearing on the 25th, at which time the public could pose any additional questions or concerns.


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